Coaching as business

By Jessica Marszalek

BRISBANE, Sept 2 AAP - Australian butterfly star Jessicah Schipper has split with long-time coach Ken Wood after he helped coach the Chinese swimmer who beat her in Beijing.

The move follows a mixed Olympics for Schipper, who trailed home for the bronze medal in the 200m butterfly while Liu Zige took the gold medal, smashing Schipper’s world record by 1.22 seconds in the process.

Schipper, 21, also took bronze in the 100m butterfly behind compatriot Libby Trickett, but finished on a high when she was part of the gold medal-winning Australian 4x100m medley relay team.

Schipper’s parents Jenny and Wolfgang were angered by Wood’s decision to help Liu beat their daughter, whom he has coached for nearly 10 years.

Liu had spent time training alongside Schipper in Brisbane earlier in the year and had also purchased a training program from Wood.

Wood, 78, says his split with Schipper is amicable.

``You have the feeling that these things are coming,’’ he told ABC Radio.

``I spoke with Wolf … and he expressed concerns about my coaching international swimmers and he asked me if I was going to continue doing that.

``And I said, `Yes I am, I’m a swimming coach, I coach swimmers, that’s what I do’’’.

[b]Wood said in Beijing he had sold Liu a training program but denied it was Schipper’s own program.

``All (the Chinese) were doing was giving me a fee for two programs which weren’t specific to Jess because everyone’s different and capable of different work,’’ Wood said at the time. [/b]

``Of course I wanted Jess to win and at that stage Liu was nowhere near her class.’’

Wood said he was shocked when two Chinese swimmers finished ahead of Schipper in the Beijing final.

Wood said today he had told Schipper’s parents he had previously coached English swimmers as well and that it was not a conflict of interest.

[b]``I said `You’ve got to look at it realistically Wolf, I get probably $1,370 or somewhere around there for coaching Jess for 12 months and these people gave me $1,500 for four weeks’,’’ he said.

``I have to run a business.’’[/b]

Wood said he accepted Schipper’s decision and there were no hard feelings.

He said he had recommended that she seek coaching from Stephan Widmer, who has coached fellow Queenslanders and world record holders Leisel Jones and Libby Trickett.

Liu was nowhere near Schipper’s class 6months ago. Then proceeds to smash the WR… :eek:

Exclusivity has a price
Article from:,22049,24282761-5017479,00.html

By Mike Hurst
September 02, 2008 12:00am

SO you want exclusivity. Well, be prepared to pay for it - or have the decency to accept something less with good grace.

When Jessicah Schipper pays her swimming coach Ken Wood "something like $1370’’ for a year’s work, how dare she and her parents complain they’re getting second best.

And no matter what additional justifications - such as her performance having plateaued - have been cultivated in recent days, Jessicah’s family made it clear to Wood they were upset he coached a Chinese Olympic rival.

If Jessicah wants top Aussie designer Alex Perry to make her a one-off gown she can expect to pay up to $100,000 because months of work by Perry and his team will go into making and fitting the garment specifically for her requirements.

Whether that gown is the world’s best is open to conjecture. It’s a matter of opinion, subjective view.

Not so the outcome of a training program. You either set a world record or you didn’t. If you set a world record, there is no debate. It’s the best.

Jessicah set a world butterfly record on a swimming program designed specifically for her needs and monitored 365 days a year by her coach. All at the firesale price of $1370.

It’s a demeaning sum which far undervalues the coach’s time, knowledge and expertise built up over a lifetime honing the science and the art of his craft.

If the Schipper family were upset that coach Wood’s choice of other clients - including a Chinese opponent - was in conflict with Jessicah’s best interests they should have made arrangements to up the ante and buy his exclusivity. What price gold?

Wood is being painted by many as the villain in this little melodrama, but it’s a seller’s market when you’re bidding for Olympic gold and the sooner the Australian sports bureaucracy from the federal sports minister Kate Ellis down to the municipal facility managers come to terms with that reality, the sooner the managed decline of Australia’s international identity as a vibrant athletic presence can be turned around.

Coaches have carried the can for far too long in this country. They were to blame when Steve Holland won our only swimming medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. And now that they have been obliged to become small businessmen in order to fulfil the national expectations for glory in the pool, they are blamed for conducting their operation like a business.

Of course it doesn’t stop at the pool.
Perth’s Alex Parnov, coach of pole vaulter Steve Hooker - Australia’s first male Olympic athletics gold medallist in 40 years - has been working at the West Australian Institute of Sport without the security of a signed contract since December last year.
How long will it be before the next Olympic host nation - Britain - comes shopping to invite the likes of Parnov, or Wood, to dance at the grand ball in London 2012.

And when they come with an open chequebook and an offer of professional respect, who could be so foolish as to call Australia’s coaches unpatriotic.

$26 per week. Man, thats weak as. I bet that involves 2x day 6 days wk too!

For the guy to make Base wage - $1000 per wk out of swimming, he needs at least 38 swimmers. Then to cover business expensises he needs more swimmers. ie, pool lane hire, travel etc. So you could be looking around 50swimmers. Thats every wk for a year.

I think he needs to up his Charge out rate. Basically 100 per month - its cheap as - what you would expect to pay for a basic beginners class. Not A grade.

Yesterday on a sydney talk back sports show they had hand fulls of callers calling him a sell out and UN AUSTRALIAN for selling her program…

hmmmmmmm I am sure it is the coaches program is it not.

No one seemed to care about the fact that Grant Hackett’s coach helped get 2 chinese into the olympic final of the 1500m.

I find it funny that so many typical sports fans expect coaches to offer their services for free as if they don’t have a right to nor deserve to make a decent living.

It’s the same people that believe that all olympic sports should have remained amateur.
I love that at least a few of the top people in the sport can actually do very well for themselves but I just wish there was more $ opportunities for the lower elite or sub-elite levels.

Actually I reckon people want all our sports people, including coaches, to be professional but actually hold down real jobs and not earn money from the sport…

I don’t know Ken, but I imagine he was charging that amount to Jessicah because that is all they could afford.

At least parents in Aust are happy to pay coaches in swimming, trying getting some to pay running coaches …

Well if you want EXCLUSIVITY then it costs a lot more than $1500! Anyone ever tried to negotiate an exclusive contract vs a non-exclusive one. The cost of a non exclusive one can be several times cheaper!